Yesterday I wrote about how promoting fear undermines the social order more than terrorists do. This brought several questions about how society should appropriately deal with actual threats.
Fear is a life-saver in response to immediate threats. However, when we have a minute to respond with more reason and less adrenaline, we are better off putting our fears back in a proportionate, subordinate place.
It is rational to fear a bear when it is right in your face. It is not helpful to have that level of fear every time you go outside. If you live in bear country you rationally lock up your garbage. You don't do anyone any good by promoting a feeling of fear about a possible bear attack all the time.
Yes, there are small groups plotting attacks designed to kill and maim Americans. They use terrorism to terrify. If we respond by being terrified all the time, the terrorists, by definition, win. If we fight them with as calm, rational, and efficient a method as we can muster, we win. Our military is tracking down a real Muslim militia in Afghanistan and Pakistan without trying to terrify the U.S. population. The FBI is tracking down a real Christian militia in Michigan without trying to terrify the U.S. population. That is the right way to fight threats without promoting fear.